Spoiler or Needed Voice? A Progressive Debate
Nomiki Konst is facing pushback from supporters of Kristen Gonzalez—their surrogates square off in an exclusive episode
On June 2, progressive activist and media figure Nomiki Konst announced she was entering the race for state Senate in New York’s newly formed 59th district—a move that earned her criticism from the left.
Supporters of Kristen Gonzalez, a longtime Queens-area progressive campaigner, say that Konst’s entrance into the race is going to play spoiler for their candidate. They point to Gonzalez’s months-long campaign and who’s-who list of endorsements as evidence that she’s earned the right to have the support of the district’s progressives.
Konst’s supporters, meanwhile, say that their candidate entered the race at the behest of community members in the district. The new district, they argue, means that it’s a brand new contest. And they insist that Konst’s focus on the pandemic sets her apart from Gonzalez and the other candidates in the race.
The fear from the left, particularly those in the Queens DSA who are solidly in the Gonzalez camp, is that splitting the progressive vote could let in centrist candidate Elizabeth Crowley, an establishment pick who is the cousin of Joe Crowley—the Democratic machine-backed incumbent knocked off in 2018’s upset primary win by now-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Even if Konst only replicates her numbers in her citywide run for public advocate in 2019, around 3%, it could prove the difference between Crowley and Gonzalez.
Unsurprisingly, Konst’s people reject this position. In their view, the new district means it’s a new race and anyone’s game.
As the Astoria Post explained:
The new district was created [in] mid-May, when a special master drew up the electoral maps for the state senate, after a supreme court judge tossed out the maps drafted by state Democrats on the basis that they were unconstitutional.
Gonzalez and Crowley have already secured their spots on the ballot. Konst needs 800 signatures by the end of the day June 10 (today). That likely means she’ll need two to three times that number; according to campaign communications director Walker Bragman, they’re on pace to meet that total.
Bragman joined my show yesterday to debate the race with Queens DSA member and Gonzalez volunteer Aaron Narraph. It was a spirited discussion, I urge you to give it a listen.
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